South Dakota proposed social studies curriculum remains source of contention before fall hearings

Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 7:08 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Monday, Governor Kristi Noem addressed the controversial proposed changes to South Dakota’s social studies standards on Twitter, calling them an improvement from the previous curriculum. But these changes have not come without its far share of criticism.

In June, an education working group came out to the public saying the draft of the new social studies standards released by the state are not the same ones they came up with and recommended. Since then NDN Collective Director of Education and Equity, Sarah White has been voicing her concern over the matter.

“There not explicitly inclusive of the Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings, through the lens of cultural proficiency, there not inclusive to the demographics or racial composition of South Dakota, they are not reflective of our state,” White said.

Noem took to twitter to defend the draft released to the public stating:

“The last time these standards were revised was in 2015, and since then, those standards have only referenced Native American history six times, the proposal that my Department of Education is bringing forward today for debate and discussion references Native American history 28 times,” Noem said.

White says the context of social studies curriculum design only tells one side of the story, “history only tells the narrative of the conquer, we don’t get the absent narrative of those who unfortunately didn’t end up victorious in the conquests. So, we get that one subjective narrative and were not able to get the full picture... unless school districts or teachers are going above and beyond to ensure that students are getting a well rounded culturally proficient education, we’re not seeing that being implemented or mandated.”

Governor Noem goes on to encourage the public to participate in the discussion around this matter at upcoming public meetings.

And for what Rapid City Area Schools are doing, we reached out to the district which said it was premature to give a statement on the issue, because nothing is finalized and any changes wouldn’t go into effect until the next school year. Since the changes are still under review, and meetings are scheduled in the fall for public comment.

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